Crème pâtissière summer berry tarts

Following my recent trip to France, I’ve had numerous requests for French inspired recipes. And what could be more French than Crème pâtissière summer berry tarts?  They’re the darlings of local Patisserie windows. This classic pairing of buttery pastry with velvety custard and seasonal fruit is requisite to any baker’s repertoire. Crucial to the success of any tart or quiche though, is a crisp pastry base.

Crème pâtissière summer berry tarts

The Great British Bake Off has sparked a global food trend, reaching across the pond and landing here on South African soil, the first season being launched on BBC Lifestyle Channel in 2015. With the baking tent firmly pitched in the Cradle of Humankind, an African bake-in-the-bush commenced.

Season one of The Great South African Bake Off saw local judges Shirley Guy and Chef Tjaart Walraven bravely ploughing their way through truckloads of sugar and floured creations, some with delight and others less so. As we’re all about baking today, I’ve enlisted the skills of local baking authority and Bake Off judge, Chef Tjaart, to guide us along the tenuous path from flops and failures to ultimate baking success. Before we dive into the recipe for my failsafe Crème pâtissière summer berry tarts, here’s a quick Q & A with Tjaart plus his insider tips and tricks to help us nail a star-baker badge.

Crème pâtissière summer berry tarts

Q & A

  • While baking is mostly pleasurable, for some it spells doom and disappointment. What was your most epic failure and was there anything you could do to salvage the disaster?

I recall when doing a live show and entertaining a crowd, a hundred strong, I had a caramel on the stove for the final phase of my Croquembouche and the sugar started to crystalize. I remember turning off the heat while talking away with my mind running at a thousand miles, what do I do? So I grabbed some hazelnuts from the pantry, threw them in, mixed like hell thinking I would make a frosted nut brittle and place shards on top. That ended in a disaster too! So ended up placing candyfloss on top, cannot remember why it was on set, but sometimes things are there for a reason. Always have a plan B up your sleeve and wing it! However I believe that the greatest lessons are learnt from making mistakes.

  • Food is a sensory experience encompassing smell, taste, texture and flavour. Which food or baking memory best describes this and how did it influence what you do today.

I am a massive believer in texture particularly, yes important on the palate but more so on your hands. Feeling things tells you so much in itself; is the batter too wet, is the dough to dry, is the mixture granular, have enough elasticity and so the list goes on. In terms of a baking memory, the smell emanating down the Parisian streets on my first trip aboard was a distinctive moment on my baking journey, then peering through and seeing the craft of baking being lovingly created with passion and precision.

  • We all have a fall-back recipe that we turn to when time is short or guests arrive unannounced at your door. What is your go-to 911 recipe?

My recipe would probably be a Pavlova. I know daunting to most, but I always have eggs in the fridge. You beat the hell out of them with spoonfuls of sugar. Place the stiff peaks on a baking tray creating little nests (rough & ready) and in the oven it goes. By the time you’ve given your guests drinks, a slap up steak, possibly some cheese, Pavlova is done! Cream, fruit and mint from the garden. And if that does not work out, make Eton Mess and chuck it all into individual glasses, know one will know!

Crème pâtissière summer berry tarts

Does miso deserve a place in a baker’s kitchen and if so, where would you add it?

Yes, I do think Miso has a place in a baker’s kitchen. You can incorporate it into certain types of bread to enhance flavours within the bread. Chocolate and miso are great friends when baking. You don’t necessarily want to taste miso but the miso enhances and gives the chocolate more decadence, earthy rich tones and a wow factor. Very much so in how miso is used in building Oriental flavour profiles.

  • Top three tips for the Lightest scones:

Always warm your milk products before adding to the mixture – Once the dough comes together, stop, do not over work it!

  • How to bake Prize-winning boerebrood:

Use fresh yeast and a traditional old-fashioned wood burning farm oven (one that’s cooked ten thousand loaves) to get that unique flavour profile. – Then always lashings of farm butter and home-made apricot jam!

  • Ways to conquer the temperamental French Macaron:

Practice, practice and practice …… More seriously, an even crumbed almond flour – Use a macaron stencil as a guide when piping and do not forget to tap the tray to remove the air pockets – Then leave them for long enough to form a skin on top before baking.

Crème pâtissière summer berry tarts


Crème pâtissière summer berry tarts
Yields 12 – 14
  • 250g all-purpose cake wheat flour
  • 80g icing sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 120g butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 tablespoons ice water

Crème pâtissière

  • 500ml (2 cups) full cream milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped or 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 40g corn flour
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 80g castor sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 45ml (3 tablespoons) butter
  • 2 cups summer berries, to finish
  1. To make the pastry, sift together the cake flour, icing sugar and salt. Transfer to a processor and add the butter. Blitz until breadcrumb texture. Add the egg and just enough water to bind the pastry.
  2. Tip the dough onto a board and press together lightly. Flatten into a disc, wrap in cling film and chill for at least 1 hour to relax and firm up the dough.
  3. For the pastry cream, place the milk and vanilla seeds in a saucepan. Heat slowly until just below boiling point.
  4. In a separate bowl, using a balloon whisk, combine together the corn flour, egg yolks, castor sugar and salt until smooth.
  5. Add a 1/4 cup of the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking to incorporate. Slowly add the balance of the milk.
  6. Pour the milk mixture back into the saucepan. Heat the custard on a medium to low heat, whisking all the while to ensure a silky smooth texture and prevent scalding.
  7. Once the custard starts to splutter, turn the heat right down and cook for 2-3 minutes to ensure that there’s no raw flour taste to the custard. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter.
  8. Transfer the custard to a heatproof bowl and press a sheet of cling film directly onto the surface to prevent a skin forming. Allow to cool before refrigerating.
  9. Preheat the oven to 170º C.
  10. On a lightly floured board, roll the pastry out to a 3mm thickness. Cut out rounds slightly bigger than the tart casings. Press gently into the corners and trim away excess dough. Dock the base with a fork. Chill for at least 30 minutes. (I pop them in the freezer to ensure no shrinkage when baking)
  11. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden and cooked through. Cool in the tart tins before un-moulding.
  12. Once the tart cases are completely cool, fill with crème pâtissière and top with fresh seasonal berries. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve.

To use up a glut of summer berries, here are several blog favourites.

Lemon curd yoghurt creams with syrupy summer berries

Baked blackberry chocolate fondant tart

Blueberry chocolate cobbler pudding

Neapolitan chia berry pudding






23 Comments. Leave new

  • very wonderful food!

  • Thank you Khanyisile. Glad you like it.

  • Marie-Anne Duarte
    1 February 2017 3:39 pm

    Hi Di
    No prebaking of the tarts?
    Sounds amazing. Will definitely give this a try.
    Thank you.

  • The tart shells are blind baked for 12-15 minutes. It’s my go to summer tart recipe. Perfect while we still have gorgeous summer fruits available. x

  • The GBBO is addicting! I’ve not watched it in far too long because we ditched cable… BUT, I spied it on Netflix! Di, these are the prettiest little tarts… I wouldn’t be able to make up my mind about that creamy filling however… lemon curd or creme patisserie? These are SO gorgeous!

  • Dianne Bibby
    30 May 2017 7:29 am

    Agreed! It makes me want to get the bowls out and start baking. These tarts are always a favourite for summer dinner parties, especially since they can be made ahead of time.

  • Dianne Bibby
    7 August 2017 7:01 am

    Hi Gerda. Sure you can. I’ve often frozen the baked shells. Just defrost at room temperature and fill with the pastry cream when you’re ready to serve.

  • The ingredients list “all-purpose cake flour” which are two very different flours in my region, so which should I use, the all-purpose or the cake flour? I’m really interested in making these tarts, they look divine

  • Hi Jacqui. Cake flour will be perfect. The texture will be fine and crisp. Would love to hear how they turn out. Enjoy!

  • Is the corn flour actually flour or cornstarch?

  • Hi Tamala. Here in South Africa, it’s mostly referred to as corn flour, which is the same as cornstarch.

  • Thank you for your excellent directions!

  • Dianne Bibby
    11 August 2019 6:50 am

    My pleasure, Tammy. Hope they turned out well.

  • Do you think this method would work with lemon meringue pie?

  • Dianne Bibby
    30 August 2019 1:14 pm

    Hi Tammy. I think blind baking the tart crust is best for lemon meringue pie as the filling is very wet.

  • Tamala Van Dierendonck
    26 December 2019 4:22 am

    My family and I love this recipe! I was wondering the effect if I left out the butter?

  • Thank you Tamala. Do you mean for the creme pat? It’ll still be good. The butter adds a smoother mouthfeel and richer taste, but you can omit if you like.

  • Tamala Van Dierendonck
    3 January 2020 8:47 pm

    It was so yummy with black raspberry sauce and fresh raspberries on top!

  • Dianne Bibby
    8 January 2020 9:14 pm

    Ooh! I love the sound of blackberry sauce. So dramatic against the creme patisserie.

  • Hi! They look gorgeous and so yummy!! Which tart casing did you use to make them in?

  • Dianne Bibby
    26 May 2020 8:03 am

    Hello Chrisel. Thank you! I used a classic smooth-rimmed loose bottom tartlet tin. You’ll find them at good baking shops. Kadies in Fourways stocks them. Hope that helps.

  • Hi. Your tartlets look absolutely beautiful. What was the size of the tartlet tins that you used?

  • Hi Khadija. Thank you so much. My absolute favourite summer tart. The tin size is 8cm. Happy baking.

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